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Bicycle South Africa

We had the complete package on this trip: beautiful lodging, reliable bicycles, excellent food, safe driver, & wonderful itinerary.


Location: 34.357125°S, 18.473917°E

This was an AMC Adventure Travel trip that I was leading with Mike.

Trip Report: 1–18 November 2018

Part 3 in a series to prepare for the trip:

  1. Prospectus: description for potential participants, draft itinerary, & instructions to register.
  2. Guide: preparation details about cash, safety, visa, travel, contacts, communication, & lodging.
  3. Report of actual trip: this post.

Thank you African Bikers for patient, friendly, & helpful staff throughout the process.

Travel

In less than four weeks, I circumnavigated the earth stopping at these airports: HKG–YVR–YYZ–BOS–FRA–JNB–PLZ–CPT–ZRH–HKG.


Location: 49.1949652°N, 123.1820991°W

I was in Boston for one week on a business trip. Over the weekend, I celebrated 50 years of National Trails System with a 50 mile hike on New England Trail in Connecticut:

Trip to South Africa started on Wednesday evening 31 October 2018 from Boston overnight to Frankfurt. I had a full day to meet with my cousins who I had not seen since my last trip there in 2013:

On Thursday evening was another overnight flight to Johannesburg for a connection to final destination in Port Elizabeth.

The return trip from Cape Town started on Saturday morning 17 November, arriving in Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon. Connected in Zürich airport, with plenty of Swiss chocolate along the way:


Location: 33.950912°S, 25.459212°E

Bicycle

We started the trip right with a stop for perfectly crisp olive breadsticks at Île de Païn: thin mini baguettes full of aroma. It got even better: the chef offered a raspberry croissant because he “loves Boston”.


Location: 34.047814°S, 23.047347°E

I bought enough breadsticks for the group to enjoy on the bus ride from Knysna.

The electric mountain bicycles were the right choice. They allowed use to take many rugged gravel roads on comfortable full suspension frame & large tires. We struggled with repairing tubeless tires as the group was not familiar with them. Instead, we inserted a tube whenever we had a flat.

The battery lasted all day for the planned distances, giving us strong turbo boost up the hills & against headwind. Except on the day when Adam & I used two batteries.

We were right next to Swartberg pass: one of the most popular mountain passes in South Africa. But it was not on our itinerary due to rough road, steep climb, & long distance. Since we had exactly two spare batteries, the two of us took advantage of them. We woke up at 4:00 to start a steady climb of 1,300m for 37km:

We were hoping to reach the pass by sunrise. But we had to keep the battery on the lowest eco mode to last for the entire route. And it barely did for Adam. For me, it ran out about 5km before the finish. Then I had to slowly push the heavy bicycle with heavy battery & heavy motor. I earned the homemade fig jam that morning at Oue Werf Country House.

Fun play was on trails of Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. They were rough, tough, & steep. But the distance was short, so we had the batteries on turbo for the entire distance. The reward was gorgeous scenery:

Chapman’s Peak before a long descent to the beach on Hout Bay:


Location: 34.090633°S, 18.351362°E

We did not have to be in the mountains all the time. In fact, we spent plenty of time in the valleys, along farm lands:


Location: 33.859028°S, 22.448497°E

Jacaranda trees & flowers along the vineyard trail:


Location: 33.8801°S, 20.0082°E

Ostrich farms:

Protea, the national flower of South Africa:


Location: 34.319683°S, 18.452738°E

Every lodge we stayed at had a pool to dip in, especially on hot days after long bicycle rides. Or late evening dip in hot springs of Montagu:

My preference is for open water splash. We had an extended soak in Witte River in Tweede Tol park on climb to Bainskloofpas. The water temperature was cool & scenery relaxing:

Farewell splash was in big open ocean of Hout Bay:


Location: 34.047439°S, 18.360430°E

Route 62

Cape Route 62 is similar to the Mother Road US Route 66: an historical route that links small farming communities with the two harbour towns of Cape Town & Port Elizabeth. It was built in 1920s & lost its glory when the N2 Highway was built in 1950s.

Our first night on this route in Oudtshoorn, was a grand introduction to this route. Oue Werf Country House decorated the rooms with small lavender flowers on pillows, soap, towels, & toilet paper roll. Views were beautiful of the pond, orchard, & garden. Not to mention fig jam for breakfast.


Location: 33.478138°S, 22.242758°E

We discovered milk shake on this route between Oudtshoorn & Montagu. First stop was for peanut butter & Jack Daniel’s milk shake at Ronnie’s Sex Shop:

One was not enough: chilli chilli bang bang Belgian chocolate milk shake at Diesel & Crème. Just after apple hard cider at Makers Craft Brewery.


Location: 33.905972°S, 20.715572°E

Karoo Art was another special hotel: art on most fixtures, unique style for each room, delicious dinner, & local dance show:


Location: 33.904918°S, 20.719665°E

We continued to Montagu for Barn on 62 smoothie: Cape gooseberries, apricots, granadillas, coconut milk, almonds, & Greek yogurt:


Location: 33.7879°S, 20.1284°E

We stayed in Avalon Springs for two nights to rest in warm water. We hiked to town on a trail in Badkloof Gorge for a historical tour of Cape Dutch buildings: ornate gables, whitewashed walls, & thatched roof:


Location: 33.787103°S, 20.119889°E

Lunch was Portuguese bread with tomato chilli jam, pear & date chutney, & lemon chutney at The Rambling Rose:


Location: 33.789517°S, 20.118836°E

We returned again to Barn on 62 for affogato breakfast: sweet smooth vanilla ice cream drowned in hot roasty espresso:


Location: 33.788067°S, 20.128564°E

If all this dairy was not enough, we had feta cheese daily with salad: it was made Dutch style, not salty, creamy, & rich, unlike the salty crumbly Greek style. That, along with ostrich, lamb, & springbok meat, thwarted my plans to have vegan meals.

Wineries increased the further west we travelled. Just outside of Robertson, we stopped at Van Loveren vineyard for wine-chocolate pairing tasting. My favourite was dark mocha hazelnut paired with chocolate cabernet sauvignon. Tough choice over milk rose geranium white chocolate paired with rose petal moscato.

Another occasional drink was gin & tonic that I shared with Steve.

The trip brought hard apple cider to a whole new level, with almost daily doses at dinner & often at lunch:


Location: 34.196730°S, 18.375112°E

Route 62 Brewing Company had a different variation using strawberry pear cider:


Location: 33.787762°S, 20.119172°E

Colors

We enjoyed a slow start to the trip until all participants arrived Port Elizabeth. Some of them had to travel over 30 hours. Some arrived a day early on Friday 2 November to rest & tour around town.

We walked to Donkin Reserve overlooking the city & climbed the light house. The stone pyramid monument was erected by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth, after whom the city was named. Art decorated the park:


Location: 33.9620°S, 25.6205°E

Lunch was at Vovo Telo bakery: salad with slabs of creamy feta cheese & crunchy granola full of nuts.

We met our guide Hans on Sunday with bus & bicycle trailer for a tour of Addo National Park: kudu, cape buffalo, red hartebeest, warthog, & elephants:

That evening we prepared the bicycles for first ride next day: assigned bicycles, adjusted saddles, practiced with battery controls, inflated tires, replaced pedals, & inspected overall conditions.

Zuurberg Mountain Village prepared a generous buffet dinner of a huge variety. Power was out all day, so we ate & drank apple cider by candle light:


Location: 33.350883°S, 25.745639°E

Weather was sunny for most of the trip, except the first two days on the Garden Route were cold & rainy. Instead of bicycle to Tsitsikamma National Park in the rain, we opted for hike to Storm River suspension bridge:

With open views of the wild coast:


Location: 34.022072°S, 23.898742°E

There are several hiking options for multiple days along this coast.

We proceeded to bicycle daily after that until we reached Cape Town.

We visited Cango caves: natural wonder of limestone formations, stalactites, & stalagmites:


Location: 33.3923286°S, 22.2149103°E

Stellenbosch deserved an extended visited for the active scene, good wine, narrow streets, & historic buildings such as Moederkerk (Mother Church) with coloured glass, gothic style pulpit, & clock tower:


Location: 33.937767°S, 18.864120°E

On our last day, I woke up to a view of Table Mountain from room in Hollow Boutique hotel:


Location: 33.928167°S, 18.414945°E

I was on the look for these colourful huts that I had often scene in magazines & travel guides about the area. I searched. I asked. But found very little about their location. Then I found a hint about Muizenberg Beach, which was on our route to Cape of Good Hope. And there they were, in multiple locations. Beautiful just as I thought they would be:

Then we stopped at African penguin colony on Boulders Beach in Table Mountain National Park. Hundreds, probably thousands, of them, close by within reach:


Location: 34.196050°S, 18.450455°E

A sweeping view of Atlantic ocean was from Cape of Good Hope rocky head:


Location: 34.353950°S, 18.490253°E

Itinerary

Day Places Log
Wednesday 31 October 2018 17:30 BOS–FRA
Thursday 1 November 2018 FRA–JNB
Friday 2 November 2018
  • JNB–PLZ
  • Dinner: La Kouzina
  • Room & breakfast: Brookes Hill Suites Hotel
  • Saturday 2 November 2018
  • Donkin Reserve
  • Lunch: Vovo Telo bakery
  • Dinner: Coachman on the Bay
  • Room & breakfast: Brookes Hill Suites Hotel.
  • Sunday 4 November 2018 8:43
  • Addo National Park
  • Room & board: Zuurberg Mountain Village.
  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5. Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.
    ➡️ Distance 122.63km
    ⏩ Speed 14.6km/h
    🔄 Duration 8:24:56h:m:s
    ⬆️ Ascent 1,557m
    ⬇️ Descent 1,035m
    Monday 5 November 2018 13:10 Room & board: Tsitsikamma Village Inn Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️40.60km
    ⏩16.2km/h
    🔄2:30:40
    ⬆️381m
    ⬇️506m
    📶14.1℃
    Tuesday 6 November 2018 9:41
  • Storm River suspension bridge
  • The Heads of Knysna
  • Apple hard cider at Mitchell’s Knysna Brewery
  • Dinner: The Drydock
  • Room & breakfast: Protea Hotel Knysna Quays
  • Hike: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️3.30km
    ⏩32:49min/km
    🔄1:48:16
    ⬆️105m
    ⬇️125m
    📶12.8℃

    Boat ride: Garmin & Suunto.
    ➡️9.85km
    ⏩8.2km/h
    🔄1:11:51
    📶15.2℃

    Wednesday 7 November 2018 10:17
  • Montagu Pass
  • Room & board: Oue Werf Country House
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️77.54km
    ⏩12.9km/h
    🔄6:00:18
    ⬆️1,040m
    ⬇️801m
    📶23.7℃
    Thursday 8 November 2018 4:08
  • Swartberg pass.
  • Cango caves
  • Rust en Vrede waterfalls
  • Meiringspoort waterfalls
  • Room & board: Oue Werf Country House
  • Swartberg pass: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️74.84km
    ⏩21.1km/h
    🔄3:33:11
    ⬆️1,296m
    ⬇️1,308m
    📶10.7℃

    Meiringspoort waterfalls: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️82.19km
    ⏩10.8km/h
    🔄7:34:37
    ⬆️1,239m
    ⬇️1,028m
    📶26.6℃

    Friday 9 November 2018 10:25 Portwine Guest House: not recommended Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️76.73km
    ⏩19.9km/h
    🔄4:02:53
    ⬆️250m
    ⬇️403m
    📶31.3℃
    Saturday 10 November 2018 10:26
  • Ronnie’s Sex Shop
  • Makers Craft Brewery
  • Diesel & Crème
  • Karoo Art Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️78.46km
    ⏩17.4km/h
    🔄4:29:59
    ⬆️659m
    ⬇️799m
    📶30.0℃
    Sunday 11 November 2018 8:52
  • Lunch: Barn on 62
  • Hot springs
  • Room & board: Avalon Springs Resort
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️67.22km
    ⏩12.8km/h
    🔄5:15:34
    ⬆️729m
    ⬇️804m
    📶29.7℃
    Monday 12 November 2018
  • Rest day
  • Historic tour
  • Lunch: Rambling Rose
  • Dinner: Ye Olde Tavern
  • Hot springs
  • Room & board: Avalon Springs Resort
  • Tuesday 13 November 2018 8:56
  • Breakfast: Barn on 62
  • Van Loveren vineyard
  • Room & board: Gubas De Hoek Guest House
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️69.01km
    ⏩11.8km/h
    🔄5:51:41
    ⬆️415m
    ⬇️465m
    📶27.2℃
    Wednesday 14 November 2018 10:38
  • Tweede Tol park
  • Bainskloofpas
  • Diemersfontein Country Estate
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️62.87km
    ⏩15.4km/h
    🔄4:04:23
    ⬆️1,202m
    ⬇️1,254m
    📶28.5℃
    Thursday 15 November 2018 13:32
  • Stellenbosch
  • Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
  • Dinner: Africa Café
  • Room & breakfast: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️24.60km
    ⏩13.4km/h
    🔄1:49:54
    ⬆️467m
    ⬇️324m
    📶30.6℃
    Friday 16 November 2018 12:40
  • Muizenberg Beach
  • Boulders Beach
  • Cape of Good Hope
  • The Hub Café
  • Chapman’s Peak
  • Hout Bay
  • Dinner: Hussar Grill in Mouille Point
  • Room & breakfast: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    ➡️53.28km
    ⏩17.3km/h
    🔄3:05:10
    ⬆️595m
    ⬇️596m
    📶23.7℃
    Total
    ➡️632.50km
    ⏩14.13km/h
    🔄44:45:09
    ⬆️6,977m
    ⬇️6,980m
    📶26.9℃
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    New England Trail Hike 50 Challenge

    Hike Report: 27–28 October 2018

    The things I do for a patch!

    When my friend Barbara first told me about this challenge in March 2018, I was intrigued. When I learned about the patch reward, then I was committed: hike 50 miles to celebrate 50 years of National Trails System.

    The trail was scenic, well signed, & trimmed:


    Location: 41.5444°N, 72.6030°W

    The New England National Scenic Trail is a 215-mile hiking trail route that has been in existence for over half a century. The NET travels through 41 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, & Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems.

    Travel

    I ran out of time before my travel to Hong Kong in spring & summer. Then in October, I had a trip for one week in Boston, including a weekend.

    “It was in my heart to help a little because I was helped much” read Kahlil Gibran plaque in front of Boston Public Library:


    Location: 42.3497°N, 71.0769°W

    That was my chance. Hike the 50 miles rain or shine. My choice was for Connecticut:

    • Weather resistant: none of the peaks was too high to be too cold in October.
    • Fast terrain: run & walk fast in low elevation profile relative to remaining sections.
    • Beach access: finish in Guilford on Long Island Sound for a dip in the salty water.

    I drove Friday afternoon to avoid traffic leaving Boston, pack, rest, & sleep early for a long hike next day.

    Nor’easter

    The weather forecast for Saturday was getting worse by the hour. I adjusted the trail to start in Middletown going southwest to Guilford, which meant the strong wind & rain were at my back.

    Beth, the innkeeper, prepared basic breakfast of cake, orange juice, apple butter, & granola to fuel the hike. Then I ordered a taxi to trailhead in Middletown:

    I started slow to adjust layers multiple times to keep dry from the rain, but not too hot to sweat. I finally settled on the rain jacket as my only top layer, with shorts & rain pants for bottom layers.

    Trail blazes were frequent, ground was clear from rocks & roots, & navigation was quick. I picked up the pace with occasional stop to read map or validate location.

    I had two food stops in mind. The first at 16km: Deb’s Restaurant, 40 Saybrook Rd, Higganum, CT 06441, which I skipped. Breakfast was keeping me going, & I had extra food in my backpack. The second stop was at 34km: Krauszer’s Food Store, 459 Madison Rd, Durham, CT 06422. By then, I was cold, hungry, & shivering. I stopped there to eat & change layers: gloves, shirt, & hat. That shop owner was not very welcoming or pleased with my extra stay.

    The trail here had been diverted from the published paper map to avoid walking on road. Instead, I just followed the trail signs. Then the sun set & got completely dark. No trouble though navigating with a headlight all the back to my room.

    Beach

    This was going to be a great day: dry weather, cool temperature, flat terrain, mostly downhill, all the way to the beach for a splash in Long Island Sound:

    The trail was still high quality & easy to navigate. Even without any major elevation, the scenery was still beautiful through small hills & open meadows.

    The final 5km were on the road through quaint town of Guildford: town green, shopping, plenty of restaurant options, & train station.

    Reward

    After a quick frigid dip, I put on try clothes, took a taxi back to my room, & drove to It’s Only Natural restaurant in Middletown for sweet potato fries:


    Location: 41.5642°N, 72.6518°W

    I return to Boston for work until Wednesday night when the long flight BOS–FRA–JNB–PTE to Port Elizabeth in South Africa to start an AMC bicycle tour:

    Route Log

    Lodging was at an Airbnb property directly on the trail for easy access on both days.

    Day Log
    Saturday 27 October 2018 9:27 Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5.
    Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.

    ➡️ distance 49.13km, 🔄 duration 10:01’30, ⏩ pace 12’15, ⬆️ ascent 1,822m, ⬇️ descent 1,678m, *️⃣ calories 3,787, 📶 temperature 8.6℃

    Sunday 7:48 Garmin & Strava: ➡️28.97km, 🔄5:24’50, ⏩11’12, ⬆️487m, ⬇️576m, *️⃣1,601, 📶8.5℃
    Total ➡️78.10km, 🔄15:26’20, ⏩11’52, ⬆️2,309m, ⬇️2,254m, *️⃣5,388, 📶8.6℃

    Packing List

    • Running vest: Arc’teryx Norvan 14. Carry water, clothing layers, food, phone, & other accessories. It was very comfortable & stable, with plenty of accessible pockets in front to use while on the run. The vest does not have a good pocket to carry poles, but that did not matter on this hike, since I did not have poles.
      • Water bladder, 2l inside hydration vest, sufficient on cold day.
      • Electrolyte pills: Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. Consumed close to 10 capsules, helped to recover electrolytes throughout the day. I carry them in small container.
      • Headlight: Black Diamond Storm. Long lasting on four AAA batteries, waterproof, used for the last two hours in the dark.
      • Shell jacket for rain & wind: Arc’teryx Norvan. Used it all of first day to protect from rain & cold. At first, I did not have anything underneath it, until late in afternoon when it got cold, I added a shirt.
      • Shell pants for rain & wind: Arc’teryx Beta. Used it all of first day to protect from rain & cold. Wore running shorts underneath.
      • Phone, ID, & credit card in vest pockets. Luckily, the iPhone 7 was waterproof in the rain on first day.
      • Whistle
      • Temperature sensor: Garmin Tempe. Measures the temperature away from ambient heat, sun light, or other factors. I clipped it to a vest strap.
    • Me
      • Trail running shoes, Salomon.
      • Waterproof socks: Sealskins. Would not have completed this trip without them. My feet stayed warm the entire day. I used them both days, even when it was not raining, because the ground was still wet. Dry warm feet were guaranteed.
      • Toe socks: Injinji Ultra Run No-Show Socks. Wore under waterproof socks to reduce friction & blisters.
      • Sunglasses: Julbo.
      • Gloves, waterproof, two pairs. Changed half way during the first day into a dry pair.
      • GPS watch
      • Heart rate monitor: Wahoo Tickr. Broadcasts in both Bluetooth & ANT+ to work with multiple GPS devices.
    • Missed: bandana. The one item I missed having was some cotton cloth to dry the phone screen with. In the rain, it was impossible to handle a wet touch screen. I had nothing to dry it off with. Everything was soaked.
    • Home: I decided leave a few items behind on purpose to stay light given current conditions.
      • Poles: terrain was comfortable with many rolling hills, but no steep mountains or rocky steps.
      • USB battery: this was a risk. I never want to run out of battery. I should have brought at least a small USB battery for phone emergency. Instead, I kept the phone on airplane & low battery modes all day.
      • Sun hat: forecast was for rain & clouds. Used a hoodie instead for warmth.
    • Snacks: I had a collection that I ate throughout the weekend.

    Guide to Bicycle South Africa

    Trip Guide: 3–17 November 2018

    Part 2 in a series to prepare for the trip:

    1. Prospectus: description for potential participants, draft itinerary, & instructions to register.
    2. Guide: this post.
    3. Report of actual trip with pictures, activities, route log, & tips.

    South Africa is nicknamed The Rainbow Nation. It is indeed a country blessed with an assortment of colour in many aspects. It has many cultures and languages, people of many races living harmoniously together, it is spoiled with a variety of natural attractions, has any experience that you can dream about under the sun and has an intriguing blend of the European and African lifestyles. It is said that South Africa has the reputation to combine the world in one country—see it for yourself!

    Visa

    US citizen visitors to South Africa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, short business meetings, or in transit do not require visas in advance. Visitor visas will be issued at the port of entry in South Africa. If you travel to South Africa for any other purpose (eg, employment or study), you must obtain a visa in advance.

    • Check your passport is valid for six months after time of entry.
    • Stamp your passport on entry & exit.
    • Copy or take pictures with your phone of passport & visa.
    • Keep passport & cash safe in a money belt.

    Keep these contact information for easy reference:

    • Ambulance 10177
    • Emergency from mobile phone 112
    • Emergency from land line 10111
    • US Embassy +27-12-431-4000
    • South Africa embassy in US +1-202-232-4400

    Cash

    Prospectus includes details about meals, transport, & lodging included with trip fee.

    Rand is currency in South Africa. Exchange rate at the time of writing this guide on 2 September 2018 was US$1 = R14.7120.

    To cover meals & minor personal expenses, bring about US$300. Adjust for your special needs. Obtain initial cash from your local bank in the United States. You can bring R5,000 plus an unlimited amount of foreign currency if you declare it.

    Alternate option is to use local ATMs inside secure areas only. Transactions fees could be around US$25. Avoid display of cash or use of local ATM. ATM fraud includes the placement of a skimming device on the ATM itself or the ruse of a “helpful citizen” who offers to assist.

    Credit card option is available in some locations:

    • Check about foreign transaction fees from your bank. Some credit cards waive such fees.
    • Advise your bank of travel plans to avoid interruption of service. Depending on your travel habits, some banks may decline foreign transactions on suspicion of fraud.

    Foreign tourists can have their VAT (value-added tax at 14%) on items bought in South Africa refunded at the point of departure, provided they present their original tax invoices with the item.

    ⚠︎ Alerts

    No current alerts from State Department.

    Travel advisory is at level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. This is the same for Germany & France.

    Exercise increased caution due to crime and drought.

    Health

    Vaccinations

    There are no required immunisations for traveling to South Africa, unless you are coming from an infected area. It is strongly recommended to have all your regular vaccinations up to date. Additionally Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Rabies inoculations are recommended.

    Malaria

    Not common or found in the areas we are visiting.

    Malaria is found mainly in northern parts of the country. Malaria risk is highest from October to May. Although the incidence of malaria is rare, it would be best to take adequate precautions if you choose to visit these areas. In addition to malaria prophylaxis, insect repellants and mosquito nets can be effective.

    Insect bites

    Some easy measures can help to protect you from insect bites. Especially in the evenings it is advisable to use an insect repellent. During daytime as well as nighttime long sleeves in light colours, shoes and socks will provide some protection. At night you can use mosquito nets or switch fans or air cons on if available.

    Personal Safety

    Most notes below apply to large cities (Johannesburg & Cape Town). Regardless, they are good practices to follow.

    Crime

    South Africa has a very high level of crime. Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles affect visitors and residents alike. You should exercise particular caution in the central business districts of major cities, especially after dark. Crime victims have also been targeted in the arrivals hall of OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, followed, and then robbed once they reach their home or hotel.

    • Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
    • Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
    • Do not display cash and valuables.
    • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
    • Always carry a copy of your US passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.

    Public Transport

    Do not use minibus taxis or hail taxis on the street or use a taxi stand. Minibus taxi drivers are often unlicensed and drive erratically.

    Instead, use metered taxis dispatched from established taxi companies, hotel taxis, and tour buses.

    Uber operates in South Africa. Verify the vehicle model, license plate number, & driver prior to entering the vehicle. Do not use it to travel outside major metropolitan areas. Pick up and drop off should not be done near a traditional taxi stand.

    Airport

    Pilferage of luggage at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg occurs, particularly at the passenger pick-up area outside the arrivals terminal, where criminals may pose as Good Samaritans offering to assist with luggage.

    Do not to place valuables in luggage.

    Criminal syndicates have been known to follow arriving passengers and rob them either at their final destination or en route to their destination.

    Food Safety

    Read about practices to eat & drink safely. Slight reaction is expected on the first day or two due to long travel & change of environment. We will monitor closely.

    Do not bring any food items. Customs & agriculture regulations often prohibit them at point of entry into the country.

    Travelers’ diarrhea is the most common travel-related illness. It can occur anywhere, but the highest-risk destinations are in most of Asia (except for Japan) as well as the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, and Central and South America.

    In otherwise healthy adults, diarrhea is rarely serious or life-threatening, but it can certainly make for an unpleasant trip. Take steps to avoid diarrhea when you travel.

    Eat only food that is cooked and served hot. Avoid, for example, food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water).

    Avoid tap water until we know it is safe.

    Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    Transfer from PLZ

    Our tour operator will arrange for transport for guests from airport to hotel on Saturday, based on flight schedule. The driver will have an “AMC” sign as you exit the airport.

    Remember to update your flight information on the shared schedule. It contains the airline information of all participants who have already booked their flights. Doing this will allow you to see who else is traveling at the same time and allows leaders to track down individuals if there are flight delays.

    Trip ends at 12:00 on Saturday 17 November 2018 in Cape Town airport (CPT). Your flight should depart after 14:00 to allow transit time.

    Itinerary

    Current details of itinerary are below. They include a few updates from original itinerary in prospectus:

    • E-bikes: we have worked diligently with our outfitter to secure e-bikes for all participants. These will be a mix of the hybrid & mountain bicycles with front suspension. They will all have comfortable wide tires, batteries for power, & upright position to view the scenery.
    • Speaking of scenery, given the comfortable bicycles we have, we are able to ride on more scenic roads closer to the coast, near farms, & away from car traffic. Some of these are hard-packed dirt roads, similar to those you ride in Vermont. In total, we expect around 125km of gravel compared with 600km on pavement. These will mostly be in the first week of the trip.
    • Pace: we will all stay together as a group. The majority of participants by far are interested in the moderate pace. We will still ride 60+km per day with good elevation gain, along with rest & scenic stops along the way.

    We are excited about this itinerary than ever before. We really think it will capture the true experience of the country.

    All distance & elevation information are approximate based on representative maps.

    The leaders reserve the right to change the itinerary for reasons such as weather, trail conditions, availability of accommodations, group preference, etc.

    Itinerary

    Day Route Accommodations
    Saturday 3 November 2019 Transfer airport to hotel in Port Elizabeth
    We have several arrival time for participants. Our private transport will meet everyone regardless of arrival time.

    We will work on a plan for all to meet. Here is a proposal:

    • Friday: meet Saturday morning for breakfast or at 9:00 in hotel lobby for walking tour Donkin lighthouse, city hall, Campanile, & George’s park.
    • Saturday morning: meet Saturday afternoon at 16:00 in hotel lobby for walking tour of Kings beach & boardwalk.
    • Saturday afternoon & evening: meet Sunday morning at 7:30 in hotel for breakfast.
    Brookes Hill Suites Hotel, +27-041-584-0444, 4GR72MC2+QH.
    Sunday 4 November 2018 Transfer to Addo Elephant National Park. At lunchtime take a game drive in the open jeep in Addo Elephant National Park: elephants, zebra, lions, buffalo, ostrich, tortoise, warthogs and bontebok. Relax, swim in the pool, & check the bicycles. Zuurberg Mountain Village, +27-42-233-8300, 4GR7JPXW+J7. Breakfast & dinner
    Monday 5 November Game drive in the National Park. Cycle Humansdorp–Tsitsikamma. Transfer to Humansdorp on the Garden Route. Along the old Cape road our first afternoon ride takes us along the boundary of the Tsitsikamma Mountain Range. ➡️distance 50km (10km gravel), ⬆️ascent 370m. Tsitsikamma Village Inn, +27-42-281-1711, 4GR52VGP+6H. Breakfast & dinner
    Tuesday Cycle Tsitsikamma National Park–Plettenberg Bay. Visit the Storms River Bridge. Once on the coastal plateau again, we are soon taken down into the deeply cut river valley of the Bloukrans and later through Nature’s Valley. A break on one of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches. Back to the plateau and towards the seaside resort of Plettenberg Bay. Transfer to Knysna: famous for its ‘Heads’, two steep, towering cliffs, which mark the entrance to Knysna Lagoon. ➡️58km, ⬆️670m. Protea Hotel Knysna Quays, +27-44-382-5005, 4GQ5X25V+PV. Breakfast & dinner
    Wednesday Cycle George–Oudtshoorn. Bicycle over the historic Montagu Pass (745m) into the interior to the town of Oudtshoorn. En route, we are rewarded with stunning views of the coast and the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains. The changing landscape could not be more impressive as we cycle from lush green pastures to and through semi-arid shrub and bushveld. Accommodation will be at the cosy Ouwe Werf Hotel for two consecutive nights. The owner wishes to invite us to a traditional South Africa barbecue which, of course, also includes tender ostrich meat! ➡️72km (48m gravel), ⬆️830m. Oue Werf Country House, +27-44-272-8712, 4GR4G6CR+PW. Breakfast & dinner
    Thursday Cango Caves & Ostrich Farm. From the ostrich town of Oudtshoorn we cycle through Schoemanns Gorge to Cango Dripstone Caves. After the visit carry on to an ostrich farm where you learn more about this curious bird. ➡️57km (30km gravel), ⬆️890m. In the afternoon one could transfer to nearby De Rust and ride through beautiful Meiringspoort. ➡️25km, ⬆️190m. Oue Werf Country House. Breakfast & dinner.
    Friday Oudtshoorn–Calitzdorp. The majestic Swartberg Mountain Peak forms the backdrop as we depart from Oudtshoorn. The asphalt roads then change into tracks as we cycle through a wonderful, secluded valley and past ostrich farms to the idyllic wine producing town of Calitzdorp. ➡️74km (11km gravel), ⬆️210m. Portwine Guest House, +27-44-213-3131, 4GR3FM7P+W6. Breakfast & dinner.
    Saturday Ladismith–Barrydale. Transfer along the Swartberg Mountains we reach Ladismith, with the over 2000m Towerkop towering over it. Start riding through the grand expanse of the Little Karoo, full of unique succulent plants, we reach Barrydale a little hamlet on the foothills of the Langeberg Mountain. ➡️77km, ⬆️610m. Karoo Art Hotel, +27-28-572-1226, 4GR23PW9+2V. Breakfast & dinner.
    Sunday Barrydale–Montagu. Route starts along the Langeberg Mountains. After 10km start climb to Op die Tradouw Pass (700m) before following the undulating route into wonderful Montagu, a wine town in the Cape Mountains. The hot springs, for which Montagu is famous, are very close to our hotel—A benefit for our tired cyclist muscles! ➡️65km, ⬆️730m. Avalon Springs Resort, +27-23-614-1150, 4GR264M9+P2. Breakfast & dinner.
    Monday 12 November 2018 Rest day. There are many leisure excursions to be considered, hiking in the Bloupont region, drive with a tractor and trailer on the 1400 m high Papageikop, golf in Robertson, wine tasting on a wine estate in the Breede river valley, Montagu museum, or simply relax by the pool. Avalon Springs Resort. Breakfast & dinner.
    Tuesday Montagu–Bonnivale–Robertson. Continue through the charming Kogmanns Gorge after which the landscape opens up. We ride through the Bree River Valley with vineyards on either side of us to Bonnivale and stay in the winemaking town of Robertson. Along the way we might stop for wine tasting. ➡️65km, ➡️410m. Gubas De Hoek Guest House, +27-23-626-6218, 4FRX5VWP+97. Breakfast & dinner.
    Wednesday Robertson–Worcester–Wellington. With the impressive Hex River Mountains as a backdrop, we cycle through the Breede River Valley to the entrance of Bainskloof Gorge, passing many wine estates before reaching and ascending the idyllic Bainskloof (600m). You can stop and take a dip in one of the natural river pools. After a long descent with amazing views of the Cape Wine Lands, we reach the wine producing town of Wellington. ➡️60km, ⬆️690m. Diemersfontein Country Estate, +27-21-864-5050, 4FRX82Q4+9Q. Breakfast & dinner.
    Thursday Kleinmond–Gordons Bay. A short transfer takes you to Stellenbosch, the second oldest settlement in the country with lots of nice homes built in the unique Cape-Dutch style. We start riding from nearby Kleinmond and cycle along the beautiful False Bay coast line to Gordon’s Bay. With a bit of luck we can spot some Southern Right Whales in the bay whilst riding! A short transfer brings us to Cape Town, one of the most beautiful situated cities in the world. We will stay not far from the sea and waterfront. The seafood cuisine in Cape Town is outstanding with lobster being their specialty. ➡️49km, ⬆️500m. Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel, +27-21-423-1260, 4FRW3CC7+QX. Breakfast & dinner.
    Friday Cape of Good Hope. Transfer to Simonstown were we visit a penguin colony. Start of the awesome ride from the Cape of Good Hope. In the National Park we might find Eland and Bontebok antelope as well as Baboon and Cape Zebra. On the Western side of the Cape Peninsula we cycle along the Atlantic Ocean back to Cape Town. The coastal road over Chapman’s Peak and Hout Bay are truly one of the most breathtaking stretches in South Africa. ➡️66km, ⬆️870m. Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel. Breakfast & dinner.
    Saturday 17 November 2018 Transfer to Cape Town CPT airport. Before the airport transfer and depending on your flight departure time, you may have time to go up Table Mountain and enjoy the amazing views over the town (optional), or visit the prison cell on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held captive for the majority of his prison sentence (optional). Breakfast.

    Communication

    WhatsApp

    We request that all participants on the trip install WhatsApp app on the mobile device. It will facilitate communication, updates, & location sharing.

    A few days before the trip, we will create a group for all participants to join.

    Phone

    Your phone must have appropriate hardware to work in South Africa. Check for compatibility in advance.

    Your mobile phone plan must be enabled to allow international access. Check with your service provider in advance.

    You can buy an international data plan. Typically you can get a day pass for $10 or a 30 day plan for $40 to get 100MB of data, 100 minutes of telephone access, and 100 texts. Check with your carrier for options.

    Alternatively, for open phones, you may purchase a local SIM card, which will give you a local phone number & data plan.

    No Phone

    You may decide not to use your phone at all during the trip. The safest way is to remove the SIM card as you board the plane in the US.

    Alternatively, you can switch it to airplane mode & enable only wifi during the trip.

    Mobile Data

    To avoid accidental high charges, turn mobile data off. International data use can be very expensive. On iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > turn the “Cellular Data” switch off at top of screen. Check for instructions specific to your own device.

    WiFi

    WiFi is available at most hotels, although connection is likely slow. It is not clear about available connection at airports.

    Navigation

    We would like every participant to have a navigation tool as backup. Some of you may already have a dedicated GPS device. Another option is to use your mobile phone.

    This is not for continuous navigation, as it will quickly drain the phone’s battery. Instead, it is for occasional use to confirm location, route, & destination.

    Note that these files & GPS signal will work even without mobile phone signal or data connection.

    Here are instructions to download maps for offline use without mobile signal. The maps include trails and waypoints that we will visit on the trip. Prepare these steps ahead of the trip when you have internet connection.

    • Install MAPS.ME app on your iPhone or Android phone.
    • Open the app.
    • Open menu options from the three horizontal bars at the bottom right corner.
    • Select Download Maps.
    • In the subsequent menus, navigate to find the country & region to download maps.
    • Download the entire country map for South Africa

    GPS antenna will work even when the phone is in airplane mode to save battery.

    Lunches

    There will be opportunities to buy lunch supplies along the trek. The leaders will let you know when these opportunities arise. Alternatively, one can always buy a sandwich from the place we are staying by ordering it the night before.

    Laundry

    Use washbasins for laundry. Bring light nylon cord & pins to hang up your clothes to dry.

    Bags

    Bring one bag for the trip. Remember that we will transition in & out of hotels almost daily. One bag will expedite the transfer, allow the support van to fit all bags, & reduce fatigue from handling multiple bags, possibly on stairs.

    The bicycle will have a small bag to carry snacks, extra layers, & accessories.

    Packing List

    This list is only a recommendation which we compiled based on our experience.
    Please adapt and extend it depending on your personal needs.

    We provided one earlier in prospectus. Here is another

    Travel Documents

    • Valid Passport (at least 6 months after departure, 2 empty pages
    • Valid insurance
    • Flight tickets or electronic printout
    • Itinerary and detailed documents
    • Credit card, cash, & debit card
    • Vaccination book
    • Copy of all documents (please keep them separate from the originals)

    Clothing

    • Light summer clothing for hot days
    • Warm jersey (fleece) and long pants for cool evenings
    • Rain jacket & pants
    • Good shoes for excursions (trekking Shoes or sneakers with good profile)
    • Headgear for sun protection
    • Bathing suit

    Personal

    • Camera with enough memory
    • Sunglasses
    • Suns screen lotion
    • Head lamp or torch (batteries!)
    • Binoculars
    • Insect repellent
    • Towel
    • Neck pouch for valuables
    • Day pack
    • First-aid kit, bandages and pain killers
    • Toiletries & personal medication
    • Address book for postcards
    • Books
    • Tissues
    • Needle & thread

    Cycling Gear

    • Helmet
    • Gloves
    • Cycling shirts & pants
    • Drinking bottle or hydration pack: the bicycle comes with bottle cage + water bottle.
    • Padded bag for expensive cameras
    • Own saddle/ pedal (optional)
    • Spare parts and tools (if you bring your own bicycle)

    Swim

    We will have regular opportunities to swim, at least in hotel pools. Bring swim suit, hair cap, goggles, & plastic slippers.

    Electricity

    Outlets use two or three round prongs, referred to as type M. While it looks like one, this is not the same outlet you find in Europe. Shop carefully for one.

    Electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most current devices such as phone chargers & laptop power supplies will work. Bring a small transformer for other devices such as electric toothbrush or shaver.

    Tour Lake Champlain Islands 4th Annual

    Trip Summary: 13–15 July 2018

    The trip has all ingredients for relaxing yet active weekend: several stops at state parks, scenic mountain views at every turn, multiple stops for local fresh food, & frequent opportunities to dip in the refreshing lake water.

    Guide for participants to prepare for this trip is available for reference. Otherwise, past trip reports are posted at:

    Route Log

    Day Places Log
    Friday 9:49 Grand Isle & Burlington Start from Snow Farm Vineyard in anticipation of wine tasting after the ride. Pass by the bird houses, ride the causeway via ferry, tour Burlington for Lake Champlain Chocolate. Return on causeway for lunch at Wally’s Place Bagels & Deli. Then tour Grand Isle on winding road by the water.

    Return to Snow Farm for a small bottle of chilled ice wine.

    Log from Suunto & Strava: available in GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file formats for GPS track.
    Aerial view of route
    ➡️ distance 88.73km
    ⏩ speed 14.7km/h
    🔄 duration 6:03’07.6
    ⬆️ ascent 372m
    ⬇️ descent 352m
    Saturday 9:00 Lake Champlain State Parks Fun tour of North Hero island beaches & coast line, with stop Alburg Dunes State Park, water dip at North Hero State Park, & whole peach pie at Hero’s Welcome. Vermont maple soft-serve ice cream was out of business.

    Returned to the Inn for a colorful sunset.

    Suunto, Strava, & aerial view
    ➡️ 61.09km
    ⏩ 13.1km/h
    🔄 4:39’48.0
    ⬆️ 673m
    ⬇️ 652m
    Sunday 9:05 Venise-en-Québec Traveled well into Canada (passport required to cross border) by Alberg & Noyan. Kaiser cheese shop was closed on Sunday. Continue to Henryville, looping back to marché public in Venise-en-Québec for olive bread, gelato, & goat cheese.

    Returned along Missisquoi Bay between farm lands to Inn for quick dip in Lake Champlain.

    Suunto, Strava, & aerial view
    ➡️ 85.26km
    ⏩ 17.2km/h
    🔄 4:56’40.5
    ⬆️ 209m
    ⬇️ 166m
    Total
    ➡️ 235.08km
    ⏩ 15.01km/h
    🔄 15:39’36
    ⬆️ 1,254m
    ⬇️ 1,170m

    Hut Traverse

    Trip Report: 6–8 July 2018

    This trip belongs to Accidents section of Appalachia journal. It is always the first section I read in the biannual journal. I study it, think how to avoid similar situations, & apply many lessons on my trips.

    Yet, after 20 years of adventures, I made a rookie mistake on this trip: not enough food or food variety.

    Travel

    I was on a short trip back from Hong Kong with at least three adventures in mind:

    1. Beat the Ferry: a twist on Cape in a Day with a new route, trails, coastal views, bakeries, & a challenge.
    2. Beat the Train: Boston–Portland. Take the first train out of Boston to Newburyport, bicycle to Portland along East Coast Greenway, return to Boston from Portland on the last Amtrak train.
    3. Hut Traverse: this trip.

    On Thursday 5 July, weather forecast for the weekend was ideal: clear sky, mild temperature, & no chance of rain. That is rare for the White Mountains. I had to check multiple sources: Weather, Weather Underground, & Mountain Weather.

    I had waited for good weather before a big adventure in the region: Pemigewasset Loop & Presidential Traverse.

    No question about it. It was time for a hut traverse:

    • Reserved seat on Concord Coach bus to Lincoln, NH, leaving Boston at 8:00 on Friday.
    • Called AMC to:
    • Sent wife detailed itinerary & expected contact times. Mobile phone reception is difficult for most of the traverse:
      • Highland Center, using internet, by Saturday 21:00.
      • Town of Lincoln, NH, by Sunday at 13:00. There is no mobile phone reception at Lonesome Lake. This would give me time to arrive Lincoln for phone call & bus.
    • Packed gear based on light & fast list that I had refined over many similar adventures.

    Carter Notch

    All went on schedule with public transport to reach Nineteen Mile Brook trail head. Short hike 5.96km, 572m elevation gain, to hut started at 15:07 for 1:27’26.9. I checked in my cabin, met fellow hikers, & rested until dinner at 18:00. I had big servings of bread, tomato soup, corn salad, & chicken.


    Location: 44.260870°N, 71.194800°W

    I was in bed early, by 21:00. The cabin slept eight people. No one else shared it with me that night. I used extra blankets to stay warm.

    Up early by about 5:00, I did not want to wait until 7:00 for breakfast. Instead, I packed my gear, snapped a picture, & started the traverse at 5:49.


    Location: 44.259363°N, 71.195397°W

    Madison Spring

    Built in 1888, it is AMC’s first high mountain hut.


    Location: 44.327812°N, 71.283272°W

    After a short descent on 19 Mile Brook trail, the biggest climb of the traverse started from route 16 on Great Gulf trail.

    As much as I tried to find Madison Gulf trail, I could not. It is more difficult than Osgood trail, but more direct. Josh had just taken it last week. Not sure how he found it. I spent 15 minutes looking for it. No luck. Osgood trail it was.

    Lakes of the Clouds

    The goal of this traverse was to hit all eight AMC huts in the White Mountains. No peaks. No side trips. And no time to smell the flowers.


    Location: 44.2587°N, 71.3189°W

    The hike was much faster compared to previous Presidential Traverse, which included the summit of each peak named after a president.

    Mizpah Spring

    Every hut displays a sign outside:

    Welcome and come in.
    This hut is operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club under a special use permit from the US Forest Service. AMC is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the wise stewardship and recreation of the out-of-doors.


    Location: 44.2194°N, 71.3696°W

    Quick section, easy trail, & mostly downhill. I did not even enter the hut. Stopped for less than 2 minutes to take a picture.

    Zealand Falls

    Highland Center was half way through the traverse with full service to supply with food, snacks, clothing layers, repairs, & tools. It has a full service restaurant, shop, maps, & staff, open 24 hours.


    Location: 44.219956°N, 71.411997°W

    It was hard to climb on the A-Z trail after the long descent since Lakes of the Clouds hut. No matter. I was still well ahead of schedule & feeling strong when I reached the hut.


    Location: 44.195780°N, 71.494330°W

    The croo cheered me for the hike, sang for encouragement, & cautioned me against a rough path ahead in the dark.

    Galehead

    The most remote in the AMC hut system, with challenging trails no matter which direction to reach or leave it.

    Actually, the trail was mostly comfortable, except for the steep descent from South Twin mountain. But food & energy were draining out of me very quickly at this point. Darkness did not help either.

    I reached the hut just before midnight:


    Location: 44.187892°N, 71.568833°W

    By the time I left the hut, I was running on empty, oblivious to the long night desert ahead in Pemigewasset Wilderness.

    Greenleaf

    Horror scenarios of Accidents started flashing through my head. I was about to collapse & injure myself. I needed to reset:

    • Primary goal was safe exit: walk slowly & carefully to avoid injury, rest as much as needed.
    • Finish in 24 hours is not possible: pace is not relevant, stop looking at watch.
    • Food was mandatory, even though I could hardly stomach any more Snickers bars.

    Watching sunrise from top of Lafayette mountain gave me hope. I was down but not out:


    Location: 44.160325°N, 71.660325°W

    I thought hard about abandoning the plan. Earlier, my friend Peg who was volunteering at Lakes of the Clouds hut, told me her son stopped here on his traverse.

    Should I? Could I?

    Lonesome Lake

    It had been 24 hours. It is mostly downhill to Lafayette Place, which I have to hike regardless. Then a short climb to Lonesome Lake.

    With a boost of energy from hefty slices of bread, I pressed on.

    Hut traverse completed after 26:44’16.5 on trail, 80km ultra hike, & 5,214m ascent.


    Location: 44.138361°N, 71.703004°W

    Foolish Plan Gone Wrong

    My original plan was to complete the traverse in modest 24 hours. Nothing ambitious in this plan. It felt comfortable. Nice round number. Within my ability. Many trail runners finish this traverse 15–20 hours:

    I was familiar with the trail, terrain, & huts. I had studied the route, prepared navigation devices, & packed a familiar set of items to serve me well.

    Yet I did not think through food supply plan. The route passed by eight full service huts. Water was plenty at these huts. Croo were generous & friendly. But the amount of food available outside of main meals for overnight guests was not much more than a bowl of soup & two slices of bread. They tasted delicious. But nowhere near the amount of calories I needed.

    It is surprising that I made it all the way to Zealand on so little food. But soon after that, my body started to shut down.

    There were major opportunities that I missed along the route:

    • Start after breakfast in Carter Notch: I could have waited just one more hour until 7:00 to eat a big breakfast.
    • Arrive just in time for large buffet dinner at Highland Center. In fact, that would have been the case I started an hour later from Carter Notch.
    • Retrieve box of food supplies from Highland Center, stored from the previous day.

    I was lucky. But one should not plan on luck.

    Food Log

    Hut Calories Out: estimated from total based on distance Calories In: estimated slightly higher than actual Accumulated Deficit
    Carter Notch–Madison Springs 2,079 1,000: two chocolate bars + two pieces of cake from hut -1,079
    Lakes of the Clouds 1,310 1,000: two chocolate bars, bowl of vegetable soup, & two slices of bread -1,389
    Mizpah Spring 902 500: two chocolate bars -1,791
    Zealand Falls 1,965 1,500: four bottles of soda, two energy bars, bowl of soup. -2,256
    Galehead 1,310 250: one bar of chocolate -3,316
    Greenleaf 1,434 1,000: two bars of chocolate, two big slices of bread -3,750
    Lonesome Lake 926 0 -4,676
    Deficit 9,926 5,250 -4,676

    Route Log

    Measurements during rest stops were likely GPS reception error, especially when inside the hut. I include them here for full reference of recorded data.

    Data recorded with Suunto Spartan Ultra, copied to Strava.

    Hut Log
    Carter Notch–Madison Springs ➡️ distance 16.78km, 🔄 duration 4:18’48.3, ⏩ pace 15’25, ⬆️ ascent 1,313m, ⬇️ descent 860m
    Rest ➡️0.08km, 🔄0:9’46.8, ⬆️6m, ⬇️3m
    Lakes of the Clouds ➡️10.38km, 🔄2:52’02.2, ⏩16’34, ⬆️720m, ⬇️645m
    Rest ➡️0.24km, 🔄0:20’58.3, ⬆️3m, ⬇️12m
    Mizpah Spring ➡️7.29km, 🔄1:56’20.3, ⏩15’57, ⬆️256m, ⬇️616m
    Rest ➡️0.02km, 🔄0:1’43.1, ⬆️0m, ⬇️3m
    Highland Center ➡️5.09km, 🔄1:17’38.5, ⏩15’14, ⬆️60m, ⬇️621m
    Rest ➡️0.99km, 🔄0:28’37.7, ⬆️3m, ⬇️18m
    Zealand Falls ➡️9.11km, 🔄2:23’57.1, ⏩15’47, ⬆️663m, ⬇️447m
    Rest ➡️0.74km, 🔄0:12’50.2, ⬆️0m, ⬇️0m
    Galehead ➡️10.47km, 🔄3:41’37.7, ⏩21’10, ⬆️888m, ⬇️528m
    Rest ➡️0.15km, 🔄0:10’38.7, ⬆️0m, ⬇️9m
    Greenleaf ➡️11.54km, 🔄6:07’07.2, ⏩31’49, ⬆️1,153m, ⬇️1,023m
    Rest ➡️0.09km, 🔄0:16’55.5, ⬆️3m, ⬇️3m
    Lonesome Lake ➡️7.52km, 🔄2:25’15.0, ⏩19’18, ⬆️309m, ⬇️744m
    Total ➡️80.48km, 🔄26:44’16.5, ⏩19’56, ⬆️5,214m, ⬇️5,369m

    Packing List

    • Running vest
      • Water bladder, 2l
      • Water bottle, SIGG, 750ml
      • Headlights (2): Black Diamond Icon & Storm. Icon lasted for entire night on one set of four AA batteries. Storm was a spare in case of problems with Icon or run out of batteries.
      • USB battery: one full phone charge + two full charges of watch.
      • Snacks: many Snickers bars, M&Ms peanut butter, & other energy bars
      • Shell jacket for rain & wind: did not use for the entire trip, except during transport on bus, when the air conditioner was too cold.
      • Sun shirt: exchanged with the hoodie at times, mostly added as another layer.
      • Sun hat: used for just a couple of hours, when it was warm for a hoodie.
    • Waist pack
      • Knife
      • Whistle
      • Mirror for emergency signal
      • Electrolyte pills, Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes: consumed close to 20 pills, helped to recover electrolytes throughout the day.
      • Phone + charging cable, loaded maps.me app + GPS route
      • Watch charging cable
      • Band-aid + blister kit
    • Me
      • Trail running shoes
      • Wool thin base layer hoodie: used for most of the time. The temperature was mild, but a bit cool on the ridge & during the night. The hoodie helped for extra warmth at times & sun protection.
      • Thin sun pants.
      • Toe sock liners (2), Injinji Ultra Run: changed into fresh pair at Highland Center.
      • Hiking socks: Darn Tough.
      • GPS watch
      • Sun glasses
      • Hiking poles
      • Heart rate monitor

    Beat the Train

    This trip was not to take pictures, admire scenery, & smell flowers. It was about one goal only: arrive Portland before train departed at 18:55.

    Day Trip Report: 4 July 2018

    I had bicycled this route twice with both of my young sons over two days & three days. Now the challenge is to complete it in one day: bicycle 150km in 8 hours or overall average of 19km/h.


    I was on a short trip back from Hong Kong with at least three adventures in mind:

    1. Beat the Ferry: a twist on Cape in a Day with a new route, trails, coastal views, bakeries, & a challenge.
    2. Beat the Train: this trip.
    3. Hut Traverse: hike all eight AMC high huts in the White Mountains.

    All in one week.

    Route

    Followed the East Coast Greenway from Newburyport along the coast with most beautiful views to Portsmouth. Continued along the coast to York, Nubble light house, until Wells. We were two-thirds of the way.

    The remaining stretch was mostly on trails—hard packed gravel trails. Services were rare all the way to Portland for plenty of choices for dinner, meat, & bear ahead of boarding the train.


    Location: 43.6540°N, 70.2780°W

    T Time

    We met in Boston North station to roll bicycles on board MBTA train at 9:30 to Newburyport arriving at 10:34. We ate breakfast on the train, got bicycles ready, & started at 10:42.

    We kept a comfortable pace. This was going to be a long day. It was about endurance. We compensated for speed by taking very short fast breaks. There was no need to sprint, push hard, or keep sustained high effort. Except all the way at the end, for the final 20km. Ben & I sprinted ahead for an opportunity to meet his friends, drink beer, & feast on meat at Salvage BBQ.

    We loaded bicycles without any changes or disassembly onto bicycle car. Amtrak train left at 18:55 arriving in Boston at 21:25:

    Booking train ticket was mandatory in advance of starting on the ride. Train has limited space for bicycles.

    Bail out points included:

    • Concord Coachlines bus from Portland offered later trip at 19:45. Their policy is friendly to bicycles, allowing drivers to load them in empty luggage compartment.
    • Taxi, Uber, & Lyft.
    • Hotels & motels to spend the night in Portland.

    We arrived in time for music from Boston Pops & Fourth of July fireworks.


    Location: 42.358983°N, 71.087142°W

    Food

    There were many options on route for bakeries, ice cream, & convenience stores along the way. They were very quick stops for: orange juice, protein shake, V8, chocolate milk, & energy bars.

    We relied mostly on drinks to replenish both liquid & calories. I swallowed 8 electrolyte capsules.

    Stops were:

    • Cumberland Farms just before Portsmouth at 42km: the “new concept” stores are excellent bicycle quick stops, with plenty of options for drinks, soda fountain, energy bars, nuts, pickles, & sandwiches.
    • Dunne’s ice cream at 68km: it was hard to resist the stop for kahlúa fudge brownie, but we should have skipped it. It was a long stop there. Waiting for Cumberland Farms in Wells would have been a better choice.
    • Bread & Roses bakery at 80km: Fourth of July cup cakes.
    • Hannaford supermarket at 123km: multiple bottles of juice & water.
    • Salvage BBQ in Portland, near train station, at 150km: meat & bear.

    Route Log

    Recorded with Suunto Spartan Ultra & Wahoo ELEMNT with aerial view. Log below is from watch:

    • ➡️ distance 152.49km
    • ⏩ speed 19.1km/h
    • 🔄 duration 7:58’24.3
    • ⬆️ ascent 591m
    • ⬇️ descent 571m
    • *️⃣ calories 3,415

    Packing List

    Handlebar bag to carry light jacket, gear, snacks, USB battery, lights, & hydration tablets.

    Beat the Ferry

    Day Trip Report: 30 June 2018

    A twist on Cape in a Day with a new route, trails, coastal views, bakeries, & a challenge: bicycle 234km in 12 hours or overall average of 19.5km/h.


    I was on a short trip back from Hong Kong with at least three adventures in mind:

    1. Beat the Ferry: this trip.
    2. Beat the Train: Boston–Portland. Take the first train out of Boston to Newburyport, bicycle to Portland along East Coast Greenway, return to Boston from Portland on the last Amtrak train.
    3. Hut Traverse: hike all eight AMC high huts in the White Mountains.

    All in one week.

    Disclaimer: some pictures in this report were captured on prior trips along this route—I often have a date stamp on each. On one hand, there was no need to capture them again. On another, this trip was not to take pictures, admire scenery, & smell flowers. It was about one goal only: arrive Provincetown before ferry departed at 20:30.

    Route

    The Charles River Wheelers club had been running Cape in a Day ride for 30 years starting in Boston to Provincetown. It is a fun challenge through some of the best sections to bicycle on Cape Cod. Only to get there, I did not like busy roads south of Boston, through commercial areas, on too many hills.


    Location: 42.048072°N, 70.220612°W

    East Coast Greenway map gave me another idea: start on East Bay trail in Providence, cross into Massachusetts to New Bedford on rural roads, & stays mostly flat roads until Cape Cod Canal trail. Navigate through Sandwich, Barnstable, & Yarmouth to pick up Cape Cod trail in Brewster.


    Location: 41.916062°N, 69.987723°W

    Stay on the trail to northern terminus for bakery stop. Ride through the hills of Wellfleet & Truro before a sprint to the finish just in time for quick bite & ferry.


    Location: 41.916820°N, 69.989288°W

    T Time

    We met in Boston South station to board MBTA train at 6:45 to Providence arriving at 7:50. We ate breakfast on the train, got bicycles ready, stopped briefly in Providence for restroom break, & left soon after we arrived.

    We kept a comfortable pace. This was going to be a long day. It was about endurance. We compensated for speed by taking very short fast breaks. There was no need to sprint, push hard, or keep sustained high effort. Except all the way at the end, on the final 5km flat sprint to Provincetown, when it was fun to burn all that we had left.


    Location: 42.051661°N, 70.185867°W

    We took the Boston Harbor Cruises ferry at 20:30 to arrive Boston at 22:00. Booking ferry ticket was mandatory in advance of starting on the ride. They do sell out occasionally.

    Bail out points included:

    • Cape Flyer train from Hyannis back to Boston.
    • Bus to Provincetown from Orleans at 18:25 & Wellfleet at 18:55.
    • Taxi, Uber, & Lyft.
    • Hotels & motels to spend the night in Provincetown.

    Food

    There were many options on route for bakeries & convenience stores along the way. They were very quick stops for: orange juice, protein shake, V8, chocolate milk, & energy bars.


    Location: 41.7036°N, 70.2511°W

    It was a hot day. We relied mostly on drinks to replenish both liquid & calories. I swallowed 12 electrolyte capsules.

    Stops were:

    • Cumberland Farms just before New Bedford at 70km: the “new concept” stores are excellent bicycle quick stops, with plenty of options for drinks, soda fountain, energy bars, nuts, pickles, & sandwiches.
    • Cumberland Farms in Wareham at 110km. Very quick stop, mostly for drinks & bathroom.
    • Hallet’s Store in Yarmouth at 165km: old fashioned soda & meat balls. Our original destination was Optimist Café across the street. But it had closed at 15:00, a few minutes before we arrived.
    • PB Boulangerie in Wellfleet at 200km: cranberry walnut bread loaf.
    • Post Office Café in Provincetown at end of ride 235km: beer.

    Just before leaving, I stopped at Cabot Candy for salt water taffy to bring with me back to Hong Kong:


    Location: 42.051181°N, 70.186905°W

    Route Log

    Recorded with Suunto Spartan Ultra & Wahoo ELEMNT with aerial view. Log below is from watch:

    • ➡️ distance 235.00km
    • ⏩ speed 20.1km/h
    • 🔄 duration 11:42’52.1
    • ⬆️ ascent 1,033m
    • ⬇️ descent 1,044m
    • *️⃣ calories 6,040

    Packing List

    Handlebar bag to carry extra clothes, gear, snacks, USB battery, lights, & hydration tablets.